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Emeco's 111 Navy Chair

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The tale of the Emeco's 111 Navy chair is that of a phoenix rising. In 1944, the Hanover, Pennsylvania-based company began producing the original 1006 Navy chair. But despite supplying these chairs—the first to be made from 80 percent recycled aluminum—for use in virtually every U.S. Navy application that required sitting, the company was on the brink of collapse by the late 1990's. While on his way to shutter Emeco, owner Gregg Buchbinder had a startling revelation upon reviewing records: Architects Frank Gehry and Norman Foster had long been ordering chairs directly from the factory. Inspired, Buchbinder revived Emeco with a series of striking new designs, including those from Gerhy and Foster.

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  The original Emeco Navy 1006 (pronounced "ten oh six") chair caught the attention of famous modernist architects including Frank Gehry and Norman Foster. Knock-offs can be found worldwide but the authenticity of the Emeco chair is easily verified by finding indentions on the backside of the chair. Today, the company still manufactures the same 77-step design with recycled Coca-Cola bottles. Photo by Armando Bellmas.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas

    The original Emeco Navy 1006 (pronounced "ten oh six") chair caught the attention of famous modernist architects including Frank Gehry and Norman Foster. Knock-offs can be found worldwide but the authenticity of the Emeco chair is easily verified by finding indentions on the backside of the chair. Today, the company still manufactures the same 77-step design with recycled Coca-Cola bottles. Photo by Armando Bellmas.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  Eight to ten trailer truckloads of PET bales—each measuring 80 cubic feet and consisting of 20,000 bottles—arrive for processing every weekday.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    Eight to ten trailer truckloads of PET bales—each measuring 80 cubic feet and consisting of 20,000 bottles—arrive for processing every weekday.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  A worker operates the float-sink tank. Heavier, nonrecyclable materials sink to the bottom, leaving on the water's surface only rPET, which then becomes white rinse flake.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    A worker operates the float-sink tank. Heavier, nonrecyclable materials sink to the bottom, leaving on the water's surface only rPET, which then becomes white rinse flake.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  Bottles are sorted on a conveyor belt.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    Bottles are sorted on a conveyor belt.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  A view of the heavy machinery inside the New United Resource Recovery Corporation recycling plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    A view of the heavy machinery inside the New United Resource Recovery Corporation recycling plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  The rinse flake undergoes NURRC's patented UnPET process, in which the surface of the PET material is removed (depolymerized) and the remaining compound is roasted to remove any volatile organic content.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    The rinse flake undergoes NURRC's patented UnPET process, in which the surface of the PET material is removed (depolymerized) and the remaining compound is roasted to remove any volatile organic content.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  The white rinse flake.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    The white rinse flake.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  Each Navy chair begins life as 13 pounds of rPET plastic pellets, which are melted down and injected into the chair mold, a multiton device that functions like a gigantic waffle iron.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    Each Navy chair begins life as 13 pounds of rPET plastic pellets, which are melted down and injected into the chair mold, a multiton device that functions like a gigantic waffle iron.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  After the rPET mixture is heated and transformed via injection molding into a chair, a robotic arm removes it from the specially designed mold.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    After the rPET mixture is heated and transformed via injection molding into a chair, a robotic arm removes it from the specially designed mold.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  The 111 Navy chairs are exact replicas of the beloved aluminum originals, down to the faux weld points on the backside.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    The 111 Navy chairs are exact replicas of the beloved aluminum originals, down to the faux weld points on the backside.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  A worker smoothes any imperfections before manually installing the H-brace.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    A worker smoothes any imperfections before manually installing the H-brace.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  One of the final steps is to install the H-Brace and feet, both fabricated on another mold.  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    One of the final steps is to install the H-Brace and feet, both fabricated on another mold.

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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  Each chair is stamped on the underside to read, "Help your bottle become something extraordinary again."  Photo by: Armando Bellmas
    Each chair is stamped on the underside to read, "Help your bottle become something extraordinary again."

    Photo by: Armando Bellmas

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